With college costing so much, a student needs to take a hard look at their expenses and pare away the excesses. The money thus saved can be crucial later. The following are some thoughts on more places to save.
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While a computer is almost always a necessity for a student these days, the kind of computer is a matter of discretion. The recommendation here is for a great deal of RAM, and scrimping on everything else. Unless you are in a graphic arts program or music course, forgo the super video high definition and massive sound speakers. What academic users need is to be able to have open programs use is a combination software to display documents in.pdf format, plus word processing, plus email, plus an internet browser, at least. The college may have a program for selling computers at a discount, and there may a second-hand computer store near the campus.
A tiny television may be useful, but really, should you be spending time on that anyway? You need a music player of some sort, but it would be a kindness to others if it did not feature great big speakers. Electronics of all sorts are often on offer at thrift shops in the same towns as colleges, or tag sales. Many students post lists of items offered for sale, on bulletin boards around campus. If at all possible, wait until your arrival on campus to purchase some of these gadgets.
The furnishings of a dorm room are pretty basic. You can count on a bed, a desk, and a chair. Maybe there will be lighting, maybe not. You will need bed linens, but you may be able, as with electronics, to purchase used items from graduating seniors. Sheets and pillowcases that can be bleached are safe. Any padded or stuffed item, like a duvet (quilt, comforter) or pillow should probably be purchased new or brought from home. Bath linens are another item that shows up in the tag sales that abound as long as the weather is warm, and they can usually be washed in very hot water with a small amount of diluted bleach.
One strategy is to bring one or two sets from home and count on acquiring any extras once you are ensconced on campus. By the time several weeks of school have passed, local stores will have discounted much of their college merchandise for a quick sale. Another strategy is to use the time during your campus orientation visit to check out moving-sale signs from other students.
In any case, try to resist the impulse to go out and buy matched sets of everything new. You can bring some things from home, and save substantially that way. Likewise, if you can, use things like a desk lamp from home instead of buying all new items.
All this does not apply to students coming from great distances. For you, traveling with limited luggage for many hours, purchasing all but the minimum once you arrive is by far the best strategy. You are fortunate to have a tool that previous generations of international students lacked; the internet. Most colleges have a Facebook page or some sort of site that allows current, past, and prospective students to interact. This is a great place to post a query – before ever arriving on campus – about purchasing another student’s ‘kit’ when they move on to grad school or a job. Wherever and however you outfit yourself, it is better to under-buy to start with, and count on acquiring more stuff as your needs become clearer. This saves money and space, which is also a precious resource.
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